A Race in Central Park, Finally

join the voicesThis was a substitute race for The Bronx half marathon in August, which got canceled due to the hurricane Irene. And this time the weather was magnificent for running. It was calm, sunny, 44°. While I was warming up, I realized how “hilly” the Central Park is compared to the flat lands of the Long Island South Shore. When I used to run 4–6 races in the park each year, I didn’t think about it as being as hilly. I was here for the first time in 2011 and the last time I was running here was also for cancer research 5 miles on Father’s day 2010.

I arrived ahead of time so I could easily find a parking spot. I warmed up by running 3 miles along the Central Park South and 72nd Street, then I picked up the bib. Since I haven’t run with NYRR for more than a year, they upgraded my pace. It still qualified me for the first corral anyway, so that was good. The national anthem singer, runner, was one of the best I have experienced during such venues.

I started conservatively, as I remembered the hills. I knew I wouldn’t create my personal best time. I wanted to set a pace I would be able to sustain for 5 miles. I remember my first split was 6:15. The 1st mile crowd around me was dense, but during the second mile it dispersed and I could concentrate on my running. The second split was also 6:15. I felt comfortably and observed my stride downhill, how high the knees went when running uphill, if the neck wasn’t tight, or how the arms were swinging. It was like a textbook exercise.

I don’t remember the mile splits further into the race, but I must have run faster, as my resulting pace was 6:11. I even had enough strength for the final finish kick. After the finish, I didn’t feel a need to stop and lean against my thighs. I wasn’t gasping, but I felt I ran to my maximum capacity and wasn’t slacking off. I don’t think I ever felt so happy with my effort. Usually, when analyzing the performance after a race, I find mistake here and there, but not after this race. Later, looking at the results my impression was confirmed when I found out that I achieved my best ever AG effort of 77.8%.

While I was looking at the results, I noticed that this year was my 10th anniversary with NYRR as a member. In the table below, there are 2 columns with times. Each time represents a pace per mile. The left column shows pace I attained in 2001, the right column shows the recent (2011) pace. At first glance they are pretty close,

Pace per mile
7:14
7:27
7:58
7:34
7:57
7:32

but, after the remaining fields get uncovered you realize that the left column shows my pace attained in races (5K to 4M). The right column shows my current, literally off the bed, morning warm up runs (4M) in the neighborhood. The pace I consider now comfortable was very agonizing 10 years ago.

Pace per mile
Fight Against Prostate 5K
7:14
7:27
Malverne 4M
You Gotta Have Park 5M
7:58
7:34
Malverne 4M
Niketown Run for the Parks 4M
7:57
7:32
Malverne 4M

The images below are snapshots of the mentioned 2001 races and results from the Join The Voices 5-mile run on 12/4/2011. Source: NYRR results.